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The Art of Negotiation How to Get What You Want

Work + Money

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Frances C. Jones, Founder, Cole Media Management






By Frances C. Jones


One way or another we’re always negotiating—whether it’s with our boss for a raise, with our partner for rotation on cleanup duty, or with our kids about their curfew. The key is to get what you want, while keeping those around you happy. 

Here are three simple ways to help get you there:

1.    Negotiating begins with YOU

Before you start the conversation with the other person, you need to be able to state the following—unequivocally:

  • Exactly what you want: It’s not enough to say, “I’d like a raise,” particularly if your boss’s follow up question is, “How much?” and you don’t know. You need to be able to state exactly what you want—and why—based on facts, not feelings. For example “I’ve added X amount of duties to my job description in the last year, therefore I’m looking for a raise of Y.” Not: “I work really hard while others aren’t pulling their weight, so I just think it’s time for me to get compensated.”
  • What you’re willing to negotiate on:  Figure out beforehand the things that you are willing to give away to get the things that are not negotiable for you. Be very clear in your own mind about what you are not willing to give away.
  • Your walk-away number: This is the number below which you won’t go -- because it is critical for you to decide what your skill set is worth. Remember – when negotiating a salary, the number your (potential) employer offers might just be their opening bid.  Trust me -- they aren’t going to say to you, “No, now you’re supposed to counter offer.”  This principle applies to negotiations over everything from household responsibilities to managing your children’s time.


2.    Validate Others

Nobody likes the sensation of having lost financially or emotionally, so it can be helpful to incorporate the following:

  • What’s working?:  If you begin with what you like—what’s working—it’s a lot easier for people to hear what needs to be changed or improved. This helps to get everyone’s brain into a problem-solving rather than a finger-pointing space.
  • Can you tell me why you’re doing it that way?:  Asking this question leaves room for the person to offer their ideas—and possible improvements-- or be (gently) reminded that you requested it be done a certain way for a reason. Studies show giving the people the “because” behind why you are making the request increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%.


3.    Stop Talking

Often, one of our strongest tactics in persuading others is silence. Most people are on our side if we give them time to be. How can you put this to use? 

  • Just ask for the favor: The next time you need to ask someone to take notes for you in a meeting or to cover for you on a Saturday, just make your request, give the reason why you’re making it, and Then. Say. Nothing.  Too often, we keep rephrasing our reason, or coming up with fresh ones, leaving the person less inclined to help us out.
  • Use silence to sell: Research has shown that decision-makers need eight to ten seconds to think of the beginning of their answer to, “Are you happy with your current choice?” --and as they speak they come up with more ideas. Given this, the longer you allow someone else to think, the likelier you are to get your product or idea adopted.
  • Use silence to negotiate: Recently, one of my clients went to a nonprofit organization to apply for freelance work. He really needed the job and didn’t feel comfortable naming his usual fee for-profit rate. So he decided to reduce his number by 33%. He opened the interview with, “My usual rate is X,” but before he could get to, “but because you’re not a bank I’m prepared to blah, blah…,” his interviewer said, “That sounds fair.” His takeaway?  Name your number and then stop talking.


Try to incorporate these tools in your next negotiation, and I bet you will see some results.

Frances Cole Jones is the founder of Cole Media Management and the author of How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your (Brilliant) Self in any Situation, and of the new The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World.


More by Frances C. Jones

What to Do When a Friend Needs a Loan

How to Get What You Need from Your Doctor

Is Your Child Employable? Pointers for the Recent Grad

I Dare You to be Who You Are

Don't Ask Permission (Your New Mantra)

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Comments

  • Thank you - great tip on the power of silience. This is often hard to remember, particulary if we are nervous, tense, or anticipating a reaction that we don't want. Interesting how we often we feel a need to fill the void.

    Posted by vdrimmer, 30 March 2010.